Parish councillors investigated over racist abuse claims

St Helens town hall
St Helens town hall
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Two parish councillors from Billinge have been accused of bullying residents and hurling racist abuse at a woman during a council meeting.

Councillors Terry McEvoy and Paul Roberts, chairman and vice-chairman of Billinge Parish Council, had both denied claims they breached the town hall’s code of conduct.

But a standards committee meeting yesterday (Monday) heard lurid allegations about their conduct. The meeting heard details of alleged abuse handed out to a woman of Asian descent.

She was so offended by her treatment she contacted St Helens Council’s chief executive Mike Palin to complain, sparking an official investigation. An official report into the fracas uncovered allegations Coun McEvoy was “rude, aggressive, intimidating and abrupt at parish council meetings”.

He is also alleged to have told members of the public to “shut up” during a highly-charged public meeting into the future development of a play area in the village. The report into the alleged racist remarks found: “Complainant G also alleged that during the meeting the chairman, Councillor McEvoy, asked Complainant G and Complainant H about their residency status, asking ‘do you actually live here?’ several times. “No other residents were asked this question and complainant H felt this might have been racially motivated due to being of Indian descent.

“On August 18, the complainants wrote to the clerk asking him to discuss it with the chair, to explain why he asked this question.”

The report states Coun McEvoy later apologised to the woman for the “perceived racist remark”.

In another meeting, he is alleged to have told members of the public to “shut up” and, in another complaint, the councillor is reported to have called people “louts”.

Cllr McEvoy says he feels in some cases complainants had “got together to concoct these complaints”. However, the report added: “Complainant H attended the meeting of the Billinge Chapel End Parish Council on 19 December 2016 and stated she had experienced racist, abusive and intolerant behaviour from the Chair, Councillor McEvoy.”

The findings are expected soon.